Web week

The Lawyer‘s Web Week is a weekly commentary on legal activity on the web. This includes an overview of the best of the week’s blogs. If you want to direct us to useful links, email webweek@ thelawyer. com.

Yankee spanky
It’s the news story that all legal journalists would give their right arm to have, but Everything Alabama (www.al.com) reporter Gary McElroy got there first.

According to McElroy’s sources, Mobile County Circuit Judge Herman Thomas routinely spanked prisoners in a room at the courthouse.

McElroy writes it deadpan: “Once inside the room, according to the sources, the judge would ask the young men to drop their pants and prepare to be spanked with what they described as a wooden or fraternity-like paddle.”

Some say it’s career suicide, others might point to it as a workable solution to the overcrowding in prisons – an unpaid parking ticket could be worth 15 minutes with Thomas, and so on.

McElroy gets a bit of gory detail on Thomas’s explicit moralising: “At least one young man has alleged that as a prelude to the paddling, Thomas told him that if he had been spanked when he was a child, he would not have found himself in jail later, according to one of the newspaper’s sources.”

Considering that many people pay hundreds of pounds to S&M clubs for that kind of service, it’s a wonder that Thomas’s courtroom isn’t packed out.

Why tunes?
Don’t mess with Nixon Peabody. Last week Webweek highlighted the firm’s kitsch corporate song, but law blog Above the Law (www.abovethe law.com) went one step further, posting the song on YouTube. It is now facing the wrath of the Nixon Peabody clan for its troubles.

According to tech website ZDnet (www.zdnet.com), Nixon Peabody has not seen the funny side and has demanded that Above the Law take down the posting as it infringes the firm’s copyright.

The blog said: “We stated our view that posting and commenting on the song constitutes fair use. It also falls within our newsgathering mission as a media organization. We explained that our site is all about law firms and the legal profession. They said: ‘We know what you’re about.'”Unfortunately, Nixon Peabody’s tough guy approach backfired slightly and now there’s a version of the song on YouTube with subtitles taking the mickey out of the firm. It has had more than 37,000 views and a number of comments.

One poster says: “I am a former NP employee, and their response to the release of this song perfectly characterizes the firm. I have no doubt that the song was done, not in light-hearted fun, but with all seriousness.”

Another says simply: “OK, who the hell are Nixon Peabody?” Ouch.

Here are some of those Nixon Peabody lyrics one more time: “Everyone’s a winner at Nixon Peabody. Aww, whoo, yeah yeah yeah. Oo oo yeah. It’s all about the team, it’s all about respect, it all revolves around integrity. We stand for excellence.”

Not so much Soul Train as Soul Tube Strike, but that’s just our opinion.

US why laws
Those who think there are inconsistencies in the UK Patent Act 1994, or that some High Court judgments are opaque, should check out a few US bylaws.

Apparently it’s illegal to fish while wearing pajamas in Chicago, offer cigarettes or whiskey to zoo animals in New Jersey and fall asleep in a cheese factory in South Dakota.

Typically, two Englishmen have decided to travel round the US to break the unfathomable laws and write a book about their experiences. The book, published by Random House (www.randomhouse.com/ crown/youcangetarrestedforthat) chronicles the trip.

Along the way the duo breaks laws by peeling an orange in a California hotel room and sleeping on a fridge in Pittsburgh. It sounds like a mix between a mild crime-spree and a gap year.

No lawyers were harmed in the making of this book.1.Top UK firms embrace flexible working2.Law firms buy a piece of London’s history3.Revealed: the City’s true £1m partners4.Marked increase in employment tribunal cases5. Lovells embarks on unique alliance with nine Chinese firms6.Proskauer merges with Paris private equity firm7. Ashurst scoops Freshfields partner in new Frankfurt push8.LeBoeuf gains Hong Kong presence via affiliation9. Frawley to serve second term as Taylor Wessing chief10. Yukos chief’s defence team gains access to vital documents